Friday, August 30, 2013

Dalriada Trilogy

I've started reading the Dalriada Trilogy by Jules Watson.  The first two books are The White Mare and The Dawn Stag.  I'm really impressed by this historical fiction.  The setting is Scotland in the first century, when the Roman army encroaching, slowly and meticulously, toward the Alban tribes. 

Here are the reviews I posted to Goodreads

- The White Mare:

Though I studied Roman history in graduate school, I was never a fan of British-Roman history. However, I read great reviews of Jules Watson and decided to give this historical fiction novel a try (since I love historical fiction!).

I'm so glad I did! Watson has a rare gift: Britannia came alive in these pages! The story quickly drew me in and I hated to stop reading. Rhiann is a great heroine, though a tad too stubborn at times, and I loved her story. The history of the northern British tribes and Romans is great for any lover of history.

My only gripe was the few explicit sex scenes that seemed out of place and unnecessary. Skip over them - this book is worth having to dodge a few "members."

- The Dawn Stag: 

The second book of Watson's trilogy is, amazingly, better than the first. Here, the Roman invasion is unstoppable and Rhiann and Eremon must face the coming war, each having important roles to play.

Watson's descriptions of Alba and the invading Roman army are wonderful. Her fluid writing brings her well-researched details to life in a lovely way and is a real pleasure to read.

I've so enjoyed reading about the travails of the Alban peoples during this time. Some of Rhiann's decisions drove me insane - and, Eremon's subsequent actions were extremely frustrating - but, all in all, I think they both matured in this book.

This is a great novel for anyone interested in Rome, the British Isles, or well-written historical fiction.

I've ordered the finale of the trilogy and can't wait to read it!  Jules Watson has a true gift for writing! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recipe Experiments

I've been trying to do a bit more cooking.  I generally prefer baking to cooking, though.  For some reason, I'm always less likely to screw something up that is baked rather than cooked.  And so, I try very few new meals.  I really need to change this disturbing habit or else I'll never cook anything new again, ever! 

I've found two new (to me) recipes online that I'd like to share with you...

- Crockin' Cornbread, from the ladies who specialized in crock-pot cooking/baking.  Apparently almost anything can be made in the crock-pot, including cornbread!  This was yummy!!  I've always liked Jiffy (sweet) cornbread, though now prefer from-scratch cornbread.  If you like Jiffy, you'll love this recipe.  It's super easy!  My only suggestions is to spray the crock-pot like crazy!!  Mine cornbread was difficult to get out.  It's not the end of the work, unless you're worried about presentation.  

- Buttermilk Quick Bread, with ten variations!  I've been wanting to try this for quite some time, mainly because the base recipe is not high in fat or calories.  I was in the mood for apples so I made the Apple Cinnamon bread and it was very tasty!!  I even threw in some chia seeds - yum!  Now I want to try all the variations!  

As for cooking...  I tried a broccoli salad this week with Greek yogurt....and it wasn't great.  I'm trying to find a good recipe (or make up my own) with Greek yogurt, much like my Chicken Salad, because I dislike mayonnaise.  The experimentation continues, though. Sigh!  


Monday, August 26, 2013

Shape: Bikini Body Camp Transforming (Review)

One workout, that I do not own, but that keeps making it into my Netflix queue is Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming (2006).  In an effort to keep changing up my workouts, I keep coming back to this video, perhaps every three months or so.  Three ladies lead it: Michelle Dozois (my fave!), Lisa Wheeler, and Tracy York.  

This video contains three programs, each running thirty minutes long.  

Program 1 is pure cardio, led by the cardio master (in my opinion), Michelle Dozois.  This is a good, solid intermediate workout.  She runs you through a series of hills - up and down in intensity.  Sound familiar?   The hardest moves are jumping lunges, jumping jacks, and burpees.  I'm not afraid of any of this, after doing her more recent, harder workouts, but jumping lunges is one move I will never do.  I've heard of too many people blowing out a knee doing this.  So, I always substitute some other jumping move in its place.  There's a good warm-up at the beginning and a nice stretch at the end - all in 30 minutes.

Program 2 is sculpting with Lisa Wheeler.  This is a a challenging section with weights.  It's hard for me, even after doing weights for a while now.  

Program 2 is a combination.  Each lady leads a ten-minute section.  Lisa Wheeler does kickboxing and this definitely gets my bum every time.  Michelle leads a strength section with a resistance band. At the end Tracy York leads you through some sculpting drills with a weight and push-ups.  This was a fun program, though the band is not my favorite. 

Even though I love Michelle's Peak 10 videos, every workout I do cannot be that intensive.  So it's nice to switch it up with some lighter cardio one day a week.  This video definitely fits the bill.  I usually do the cardio and half of another program.  If you're looking to get past that beginner stage of videos, this is a good way to get started.

Bottom Line:  This is a great intermediate video that will get you prepared for more strength training and intense cardio.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Amy Bento: Hi-Lo Xtreme Workout (Review)

I've done a lot of workout videos.  Most of them I try through Netflix.  While Netflix doesn't have everything, it allows me to try some different workouts and change up what I do.  I hate getting bored!  If I really like a video and can see myself wanting to add the workout into my regular rotation, I'll buy a copy.  If I think they're fun in limited quantities, I'll keep the disc for a few weeks.  But most workouts do not make my cut.  

Such was the case with Amy Bento's Hi-Lo Xtreme Workout (2008).  I had read good things about Amy Bento and since I needed a different cardio workout, I decided to try this one of hers.  

Now, I've had quite a few dance lessons in my life.  Zumba is a breeze for me to follow, as is most every other dance video I've encountered.  

Bento's workout is not easy to follow at all.  Her cueing is horrific and her moves just plain confusing.  At one point, I shuffled around, trying to make sense of what the heck she was doing.  

Her cardio is mostly low-impact dance moves - but constant (because she never slows down to explain anything!).  There are several "peak" moves - lunges, jumpes, etc, at the end of a routine segment.  Bento is often explaining a new move as she does it, never bothering to simplify it first.  Now, this got my heart rate up and it stayed up (though I never felt my pulse pounding)...but I did not enjoy the workout.  It should not be this hard to follow a cardio workout.  

I sent this back to Netflix and will be happy to never see it again.  It will take a lot for me to try another Amy Bento workout.  For a clip of the video, go here

Bottom Line: If you can follow nonsensical cardio dance moves, this is the intermediate workout for you.  If you prefer logical cardio workouts that can be followed and understood, stay away from this one. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Dreaded Physical

Last week, I had my yearly doctor's appointment.  Ladies, you know what this means.  You dread it for weeks up until it's time.  Sigh.

And so, my nurse practitioner (I see no reason to wait for hours to see the doctor) is examining me.  It's not quite time for the intimate examination but she's poking and prodding.  

While this is going on she asks, "Do you run?"

I think she said that but was unsure.  "What?" I said.

"Do you run?" she asks, more slowly this time.

Oh, crap!, I think.  What's wrong?  Is something wrong with my knees, my feet.....  Oh, my gosh, I must be dying.  How can she tell?  If she can tell, something must be dreadfully wrong!  Oh, my goodness!  All this runs through my mind in the blink of an eye.

"No, not really," I said.  "I mean, I run in place a lot. I do workout videos," I stammer, absolutely befuddled.  "I can't run; it's too monotonous."

"Well, you look like a runner," she says.

At the time I was too distracted by what was coming up in the examination to really pay any heed to this comment.  But, later, I was aghast.

Did someone just call me athletic?  Or, quasi-athletic?  Holy cow!  I've never been referred to - plainly or veiled - as athletic!  Never in all my years!  

Wow.  I guess my harder workouts are finally paying off.  Woohoo!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some Craft Time

I carved out some crafty time in my schedule recently to make some cards.  Football season is about to begin and there are several male birthdays in the family coming up.  Here's what I made...

Mr. Higgins' family is all about Auburn.  Every fall I like to send them a "happy college football" card.  At least my color palette is already set!  Ha!  

I always struggle with manly cards.  One of my October birthdays is my dad' I tried to use red, his favorite color.  I think it works, though it was a struggle for me put it all together in a nice, unfeminine way.  Sometimes creativity is not at all easy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Michelle Dozois: Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn (Review)

Though this is a follow-up to the original Peak 10 Cardio video, this is the first one I purchased and, therefore, the first one I will review.  This is unlike any cardio workout I've done.  And, let me tell you, it's hard

Michelle Dozois does cardio very well.  Her Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn (2012) will test you - and keep on testing you until you are drenched with sweat.  I've only ever done the whole video 2-3 times because it's almost too much.  I almost always leave out one 10-minute interval.  All of her Peak 10 videos are formatted the same way.... 

The warm-up includes a nice bit of light cardio and stretching.  You body wakes up, you heart picks up the pace, and you'd better grab a towel to keep within arm's reach.  

There's a short "basecamp" where you catch you breath.  Then on to the 2-3 minute "ascent," which is usually low-impact cardio designed to get your heart rate up: side burpees, side knees, jabs, kicks, etc.  After all that you feel slightly recovered (from the last peak) and move on to the "climb" - punches and high knees, jacks and side lunges, jogs with knees up, etc, etc.  Sweat is dripping off of you and your body is protesting.  Then, for about a minute you hit the "peak" - one crazy move that will test your limits.  These are burpees with tuck jumps, air jacks, side lunge jump...basically something with a high jump/leap in it.  Eek.  You wish for death - and then the bell rings and you're done.  This all happens in five minutes.

Repeat that whole thing on the other side.

Do it four more times for 50 minutes of heart-pounding cardio.  

There's a nice cool down and stretch at the end.  And I enjoy the stretching, as always. (In her Peak 10 videos, Michelle does a great job of changing up the stretching; it's never the same but is always effective.)

I would really like to know how many calories this workout burns.  It's crazy.  If you'd like to see a clip, go here - but be warned: the clip does not make it look as hard as it really is.  Recently, I've started hitting the pause button between intervals - just to catch my breath for an extra minute - and to have more time to towel off.  I genuinely enjoy this workout.  Though I hate going to the floor (for burpees, jacks, etc), I know why it's done: it gets your heart-rate up there and tests your strength.  I used to barely be able to do three burpees.  Now, in the 45-60 second peak, I can do many, many burpees.  That doesn't mean I like them, but I'll grudgingly do them.    

I love Michelle and her team - some of whom are in all her videos.  They really are an inspiration.  And Michelle - how in the world does she talk while doing burpee tuck jumps and all these crazy things?!  The woman is amazing.  

Bottom line: For a cardio challenge, you can't go wrong with this.  If you can't get through it, do as much as you can and gradually add on an interval at a time.  This workout is not for the faint of heart - but you will burn some serious calories.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Personal Goals

In all this talk of workouts, I guess I should tell you a little bit about my personal goals.  

I am 31 years old.  My weight is actually where I want it to be, though it fluctuates within about a ten-pound range depending on my eating and working out.  It always freaks me out when I'm on the high end of those ten pounds (after Christmas or vacation)....but eventually I can get back down.  

My fitness goals are to (a) maintain my weight and (b) get a little more toned and "in shape" for when we hike and do physical activities.  I've never been athletic and only started working out with any real frequency about seven years ago.  But since I started, I've been a little OCD about it.  Especially now that I have a husband who weighs only 15-20 pounds more than me.  Let me be very clear: I never want to be the fat wife next to a skinny husband.  Oy.

So, I'm super OCD now about working out for six days a week, for 45-60 minutes.  It's not easy.  By the time I go to work, sit at my desk for 8.5 hours, and drive home, I've lost ten hours of my day.  I have a lot of hobbies I'd like to do in my spare time, along with spend time with my husband.  But I've made a commitment to myself to stay in shape.  And get into better shape, if possible.

I eat well except on my splurge day: Friday nights.  That's the one day a week Mr. Higgins and I regularly go out.  Once I got married I had to compromise on some foods - like pizza.  I gave up pizza when I went on Weight Watchers seven years ago. But Mr. Higgins loves pizza....and he made me remember how much I love it (arg!).  When I lived alone, I would go out once a week - and get a turkey sandwich at Panera!  Oh, how the times have changed.

With that change, my workouts changed.  It happened rather naturally and corresponded to the return of pizza.  I needed more challenging workouts to feel like I'd been worked out...and I wanted to burn more calories (for pizza!).  Hopefully, with these harder workouts, I'll get the body I want. 

One boon of all this is: you get to hear all about the workouts I encounter.  Feel free to send me suggestions; I welcome them! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick Beef Burritos

My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook.  She is a master of comfort food.  I love it when Mr. Higgins and I get to spend a week with his parents in Nashville because it means many, many fabulous home-cooked meals and desserts.  Oh, and I gain so many pounds every time I go to Nashville!  Ha!  

So good is my mother-in-law in the kitchen that she's had 15(!!) recipes accepted for publication by Gooseberry Patch.  Let's just say that when I started cooking for Mr. Higgins, I was just a tad intimidated by his mother's fabulous meals.

Mr. Higgins' mom is such a nice lady and she soon started encouraging me to submit a few of my own recipes to Gooseberry.  I'm not generally one to make up my own recipes; I'm usually just a very good recipe-follower.  But I have a few recipes up my sleeve and I submitted two: a burrito one and my Chicken Salad

Weeks and then months went by without hearing anything from Gooseberry.  But my mother-in-law said not to fret, they sometimes take years to accept a recipe.  And so I eventually forgot about my submissions.  Frankly, I completely forgot about submitting the burrito recipe.  

And so it was a delightful surprise to get a letter in the mail from Gooseberry saying they were publishing my burrito recipe!  I was aghast!  Sure, I love these burritos but I thought my chicken salad was much more unique. And to make it all even better, my mother-in-law will have a recipe in the same book!  (Due out in January.) How cool is that?!

As it is, I'm going to share with you my burrito recipe.  The idea came from a recipe my college room-mate, SKP, made often - Taco Pie.  My mother started making the taco pie and eventually it morphed into a lower-fat recipe (sans chips) - burritos!  Here it is...


This started out as a taco pie recipe.  Over the years, my mother and I have changed it and tried to make it healthy and easy.  It's a great lunch recipe or a quick dinner recipe.  To make these as a quick lunch for work, freeze them individually and warm in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 package taco seasoning
1 (16 oz) can fat-free refried beans
1 (10oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
Salt, to taste
5 flour or whole wheat tortillas
2% shredded cheddar cheese

Brown meat and onion in a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Add taco seasoning and lower heat to medium.  Add refried beans and tomatoes, stirring until well combined.  Simmer on the stove, stirring occasionally for five minutes.  Add salt, if desired, to taste.
Warm tortillas in the microwave.  Scoop out meat mixture into tortillas, sprinkle with desired amount of cheese, roll up tortilla and serve.  

*For less spice, add only half a can of tomatoes and green chilies and half a package of taco seasoning.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Jari Love: Get RIPPED! Slim & Lean (Review)

The first time I happened upon a Jari Love workout through Netflix, I did not love it.  However, when I revisited it and read some reviews on-line, I decided I needed to add some of Love's workouts into my mix to get the legs I want.  

The most basic of her workouts that I own is Get Ripped! Slim and Lean (2006).  As a testament to how much I think it works, I still do this workout once a week.  I love its simplicity and the results I think it gives.  Here's how it plays out...

The warm up is five minutes and contains a shortened version of most of the moves you'll do throughout the workout: squats, lunges, bicep curls, overhead presses, rows, etc.  After this, the video goes through these moves again, and you do each move for five minutes.  

First up: squats.  Pulse squats, two-count squats, singles, slow for four....  On and on for five minutes.  Add weights as you get the hang of this.  When I started, I could barely get through five minutes of squats.  Now, I do them with weights.  

Next: lunges.  Oh, I hate lunges.  However, I do them gladly because I think they're the reason my legs are finally showing some muscle tone.  Jari takes you through forward and reverse lunges - similar to the squat track: two-count lunges, pulse lunges, singles, etc.  Then you do the other leg.  A total of five minutes of lunges.  Again, when I started I could barely do this for five minutes.  Now, I do them with weights.  

I think you get the idea.  You do five minutes of these tracks:
Chest presses (I still can't do five minutes of these with my weights - oy.)
Bent-leg deadlifts with rows
Push-Ups, Rotator Cuff
Tricep Dips, French Press
Bicep, Hammer Curls
One-Leg Squats, Wide-Leg Squats
Overhead Press, Lateral Raise

I'll admit: I don't do this entire video.  I do the squats, lunges, one-leg squats and wide-leg squats, and a few other sets occasionally.  But I like to get my cardio in, so I'll do the warm-up and then do five minutes of my own cardio.  Then squats and my own cardio.  Lunges and my own cardio etc.  This way, my heart rate is going up and down, similar to circuit training.  And sweat is usually dripping off of me.  Gross but at least it's an effective workout.  Go here for a clip of the video.

And so I highly recommend this video if you want to tone up some of your problem areas.  Of course, you have to get the fat off before you'll see the tone but this video will help get you there. 

I like Jari, too.  She is motivating without being too perky.  And Laurie, who is in almost every one of her videos in the back, is a constant source of motivation for me.  Her arms are amazing!

Bottom line: This is a great way to start building some muscle in your arms and legs.  It'll be painful at first but just keep on it.  As you get used to it, add weight, and then more weight.  Jari knows her stuff.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Movie Soundtracks 2013

As you know, I've always loved movie scores.  It was a great pleasure to find a man - and eventual husband - who loves them just as much, and possibly more, than me!  

We're always on the lookout for good soundtracks.  Sometimes, Mr. Higgins will buy a soundtrack without first seeing the movie!  And sometimes that musical score will convince us to see the movie it accompanies (funny, I know, but it's happened more than once).

Here are some of the scores we've listened to.  I will say, to start, that these are mostly all action movies.  I have little motivation to see the pathetic rom-coms that are being produced these days......and Mr. Higgins has no motivation.  So excuse us our genre-bias.  

(In order of release...)

1.  Iron Man 3, Brian Tyler

The Iron Man soundtracks have suffered by not having one composer for the entire trilogy.  Brian Tyler composed the music for the third movie.  Outside of the various themes for the movies, there is little good music to save.  The third installment did not disappoint in the way of theme (appropriately entitled "Main Theme"); it's a keeper.  Another track I added to my playlist: "Stark."  

2.  Star Trek Into Darkness, Michael Giacchino

I was so looking forward to this movie - and the soundtrack, since I loved the first one so much.  The movie did not disappoint.  The soundtrack was a bit of a letdown since most of the music merely played off the themes established in the first movie.  Michael Giacchino's "Main Theme" for the second movie is still good, though it only added to the first theme - a great piece of music.  "London Calling" is a nice piece with a bit of piano in the beginning.  "Sub Prime Directive" is great and incorporates the old Trek theme.

3.  Before Midnight, Graham Reynolds

I've told you about this movie and the previous two, all of which are excellent films.  There isn't a lot to this soundtrack but the theme, played throughout the movie, is lovely.

4.  Man of Steel, Hans Zimmer

Mr. Higgins did not like the movie or the soundtrack.  I liked the movie (mostly) and like the soundtrack.  Mr. Higgins complained that there was no one good solid track of the main theme.  I'm not so concerned about having one perfect track and so I've enjoyed listening to the entire score.  Hans Zimmer used a lot of drums for this soundtrack and it works - mostly.  There is one track of only drums that I could definitely do without.  All in all, it was a risky score to write but I think it works, as a whole.

5. World War Z, Marco Beltrami

Mr. Higgins bought and kept a few tracks from this score.  To be honest, even though I liked the movie (and really liked the book), I still haven't managed to listen to the score yet.  It just didn't catch my attention.

6.  Lone Ranger, Hans Zimmer

I asked Mr. Higgins to buy this score after seeing a preview of the movie.  If it's anything like Pirates of the Caribbean, I thought, it must be good music - and it is!  Neither of us had any interest in the movie but we got the score...and now we eventually want to see the movie.  The score is that good - and fun! The "Finale" - all ten minutes (!) of it - includes the Tell Overture and is epic.  Every time it comes on, I smile.  Other notable tracks: "Absurdity," "The Railroad Waits for No One" (perhaps my second favorite track), and "For God and for Country." 

7.  Pacific Rim, Ramin Djawadi

Mr. Higgins and I both like some of this music, but we disagree on one thing.  I love the theme - "Pacific Rim."  After the movie, I had that thing stuck in my head for weeks!  Mr. Higgins doesn't like the track because it starts with an electric guitar.  Since violins eventually take over the theme, I'll keep it. For some reason, I love it.  Mr. Higgins goes around whistling "2500 Tons of Awesome," which is alright, in my opinion.  For some reason, I've let the entire score play for hours on end at work.  The movie, in general, really caught me by surprise.  I had no interest at all in it; I just went with my husband and his friend.  But I liked it.  Who would have thought?

That about rounds out my movie adventures of the summer.  The Game of Thrones, Season Three soundtrack came out in the early summer and is very good.  I've also recently purchased some "Downton Abbey" tracks. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August Page

For my August page, I didn't rely too heavily on the Graphic 45 line I've been using.  I guess it didn't really catch my eye, except for the sunflowers, of which I used a few.  I drew upon the color scheme of red and yellow and found some cardstock that went well together.  And I really like how it came out.

The picture is from Mullet Bay on St. Maarten, during our Navigator cruise in 2012.  Upon arriving at the beach, Mr. Higgins snatched me up (he's lucky he didn't break his back) and ran with me in his arms to the water.  Thankfully, his mother had her camera ready and his dad looked on.  It was a pretty great day and that beach is on my top ten list (well, if I had one!).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Michelle Dozois: Peak 10 Cardio Strength (Review)

A while ago, I talked with you about some of my favorite workouts.  I've since decided to review some specific videos here, just in case you feel like you need to switch up your workout. 

I mentioned how I'm loving Michelle Dozois, especially her new Peak 10 series.  These are fast becoming my very favorite videos to do - because they are the most effective.

The first of these I bought was her Peak 10 Cardio Strength (2010).  The format is simple.  There are 5 ten-minute segments and each one starts with weights and then moves to cardio - there's a basecamp, ascent, climb, and then peak, which is a very strenuous cardio move that will leave you breathless.

Michelle's Srength videos do not include a warm-up - "the warm-up is a workout," she says.  And so you start with weights.  None of the exercises with weights are too strenuous.  You'll need a lighter set of weights and a heavier set.  My main problem is always that I only have one set of weights - 6.6 lbs.  That makes it difficult when light weights are needed - or heavy weights.  Sometimes, I just use one weight.  You can definitely tweak these moves to accommodate whatever your situation is.  The only tough part about the weights is that Michelle moves fast, so you better know some basic terms like flies, dead lift, row, clean-and-press, etc.  And, just to prove that the warm-up is a workout....this warm-up includes burpees.  Eek!  I hate burpees!

Okay, basecamp - the beginning of each new segment.  Catch your breath here and do it fast.  

Next, is the climb - weights with squats, lunges, etc.  Doable as long as your weights aren't too heavy.  And don't worry, you never do one move for too long.  This lasts about two minutes.

And then the ascent.  About three minutes of fun cardio.  It's a challenge, believe me, especially the few segments where you have to get down on the floor for push-ups and mountain-climbers.  But just think of this - the cardio in the "Cardio Strength" videos is a breeze compared to the "Cardio Interval" videos!

Finally, the short peak.  These are generally one move that is difficult and jumpy.  I do have trouble with some of these where I have to jump and get my knees up - tuck jumps etc.  But I do the best I can and, thankfully, this is only about 30 seconds of heart-pounding craziness.

After these five minutes, you repeat it all on the other side (where applicable).  At least you know what's coming which is sometimes good and sometimes bad!  

Repeat this concept in the next four 10-minute segments.

At the very end of the workout is a cool-down and stretch.  Michelle always has some great stretches - they're never boring and you really feel like you're soothing your muscles after all the jumping.

I rarely do this entire workout.  I usually only do four segments.  Seriously, since the warm-up is a real workout, I get tired quickly.  For a while, I was doing this workout once a week and, after 5-6 months, I got a little bored with it.  But if I change it out with something else every other week, as I'm doing now, it works a lot better.  

You'll get tired of hearing this, but I love Michelle, even her older stuff.  She's perky without being annoying and her cueing is great.  Oh, and I'd kill for her body.

Bottom line: If you want a challenge and you're tired of boring, unchallenging workouts, try this.  I dare you.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I recently finished Elizabeth Gilbert's (author of Eat, Pray, Love) new book, Committed: A Love Story.  I really liked EPL so I as intrigued by the follow-up that focused on Liz and Felipe's story - after all her adventures.

Here is the review I posted to Goodreads:

This is a book in which Elizabeth Gilbert tries to convince herself that marriage is okay.

When Felipe can no longer come to the U.S., Gilbert must face the reality of their unique situation - marriage is the only remedy for their "happily ever after." And so she commences her discussion of marriage - the history of it, how it differs among cultures, and the role of women within marriage.

I must admit that I learned a lot from this book. But it was not what I expected. Gilbert, quite frankly, exhausts me with her need to be advised.

I really wanted to tell Liz to get a grip.  However, she reminds me of myself with her need to get all the advice on the planet before making any big decision.  Maybe the lesson here is that I over-think everything and am, therefore, exhausting.  Arg. Reality is hard to face sometimes.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sookie Revisited

Remember this girl?  Sookie the Cat?  Sure you do!  While I lived with my parents, out in the country, she followed me and mom home from a walk one evening.  A few days later, she had a miscarriage.  She was no more than nine months old at the time.  

Now, she's the happiest country kitteh in the land.  She has my dad wrapped around her little paw.  And she is always occupied with tons of things to hunt and chase: grasshoppers, lizards, birds, gophers, deer....  Okay, she doesn't hunt deer...but she watches them.  She'll kill lizards and pounce on grasshoppers more than anything.  She has, however, caught a gopher before, endearing her forever in my dad's heart. 

With all my trips to East Texas this month, I've gotten to spend more time with this precious girl.  And that makes me very happy!